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The Best Sci-Fi Movies on HBO Max


HBO Max is bursting with great sci-fi flicks, from classics such as The Matrix and Blade Runner, to newer titles, including Pacific Rim and an awesome little Spanish gem called Timecrimes.

Scroll down for the extensive options available on HBO Max.

Katalyst/CNET Screenshot

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

An enjoyable B-movie, The Butterfly Effect sees college student Evan Treborn (Ashton Kutcher) tinker with the past and discover how each change affects the present.

Mosfilm/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

Make it through Stalker’s slow start and you’ll be able to say you’ve watched an existential masterpiece of Russian cinema.

Photo by LMPC via Getty Images

Before Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky made huge leaps for sci-fi cinema, with his complex, character-driven piece about astronauts having wild hallucinations that may or may not be real. The 2002 American remake of Solaris is also on HBO Max, with added George Clooney romance.

Paramount Pictures

Matt Reeves has gone on to big things since directing this slick found-footage monster morsel. See what he was up to before The Planet of the Apes movies and 2022’s The Batman.

Sony Pictures

This immense low-budget sci-fi starring Sam Rockwell has everything. It has Sam Rockwell. A Clint Mansell score. A claustrophobic retro set and gorgeously moody moonscapes. Hard sci-fi ideas. The basic premise: A man coming to the end of a three-year solitary stint on the far side of the moon suffers a personal crisis. A must-watch.

20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

A routine blockbuster for reliable entertainment.

Manson International

A warning for the body horror-averse before hitting play on this David Cronenberg sci-fi. Scanners follows people with special abilities, including telepathic and telekinetic powers. Not the first in this list to become a cult classic after a lukewarm initial response, Scanners left a lasting impression, not least because of a memorable scene involving a head explosion.

Miramax/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

Robert Rodriguez isn’t the most popular among Star Wars fans at the moment, mainly for making a character do a pointless ballerina twirl in the divisive The Book of Boba Fett finale. The Faculty, directed by Rodriguez, isn’t great, but it isn’t bad either, following teens who investigate mysterious happenings at their high school.

Paramount Pictures

Basically Stranger Things set in the ’70s. Super 8 follows a group of teens who are filming their own movie when a train derails and a dangerous presence begins stalking their town.

Warner Bros.

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi blockbuster is back on HBO Max. The epic based on Frank Herbert’s novel recently scored a host of Oscars, including best original score and cinematography. Catch the sprawling story of the Atreides family, who find themselves at war on the deadly planet Arrakis. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and more stack out a hugely impressive ensemble cast.

Universal Pictures

A new Jurassic Park movie is headed to theaters this year, so catch up on the (superior) original now. 1993’s Jurassic Park kicked off the franchise, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Spoiler: Original cast members Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum are set to make a return in the upcoming 2022 flick.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Its sequel didn’t reach the same lofty heights, so watch the first monster epic in the Pacific Rim franchise. 2013’s Pacific Rim is helmed by Guillermo Del Toro, so expect a strong brush of visual artistry over the monster mayhem.

Karbo Vantas Entertainment/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

This truly mind-bending Spanish sci-fi is a wild card to take a chance on if you’re in the mood. Featuring all the trimmings of a low-budget thriller, Timecrimes follows a middle-aged man who finds himself stuck in a time loop. A stream of twists will keep you on your toes.

20th Century Fox/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Roland Emmerich, “master of disaster,” presents The Day After Tomorrow. The director also made this year’s Moonfall, in which the moon falls out of its orbit on a collision course with Earth. You already know what kind of fun this movie is going to be.

Universal Pictures/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

Oblivion came out of the build-a-sci-fi-movie workshop. Starring Tom Cruise, it follows humans at war with aliens, paying homage to ’70s sci-fi films including The Omega Man and Silent Running. A love letter in the form of a half-decent sci-fi action adventure.

Jaap Buitendijk

Based on the popular Ernest Cline novel of the same name, Ready Player One is a nerd’s feast, dropping over 100 references to popular culture from various time periods, including Minecraft, Batman and Back to the Future. There’s even a story in there too, about a dystopic society finding solace in virtual reality.

Vertigo Releasing/YouTube/CNET Screenshot

This solid British sci-fi comes from Gareth Edwards, who went on to direct Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and 2014’s Godzilla. His mastery of atmosphere, wonder and beauty is on show here, all on a shoestring budget. Monsters follows a couple attempting to cross an “Infected Zone” teeming with giant tentacled monsters.

Warner Bros. Pictures

If you haven’t seen The Matrix, and somehow don’t know its major plot points, well done for avoiding spoilers for 23 years. The sequels Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions are also on HBO Max.

Stephen Vaughan

Watch two and a half hours of atmospheric, sumptuous spectacle, but don’t expect any conclusions to the question posed by the original Blade Runner: Is Rick Deckard a replicant?

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Forever the pinnacle of neo-noir visual artistry, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner will never be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Warner Bros.

Love it or hate it — get it or find its “science” baffling — Tenet is eye-popping entertainment. Best advice: Don’t question Tenet, submit to the Tenet experience.

Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET Screenshot

The superior Christopher Nolan movie on this list.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

A dystopian thriller starring Charlton Heston and set in a 2022 plagued by overpopulation, pollution and climate disaster. This isn’t a documentary.

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

“Alexa, play 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Warner Bros./YouTube/CNET Screenshot

This sci-fi mystery from one half of the duo that created Westworld (Lisa Joy) is pure mind boggle, but the interesting ideas are worth a gander. Reminiscence follows Hugh Jackman’s Nick Bannister, who uses a machine that can see into people’s memories.



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